Miniblog #329: My Response to Mark Driscoll’s Apology & Aspired Change
It recently came out that Mark Driscoll has apologized to Mars Hill and committed to changing his life and ministry. Let’s just get it out of the way in a single sentence that I love that he’s admitting his limitations and, in light of that of such humility, am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s committed to real change. At the same time,11.Not “But.” what I dislike even in his apology letter are these continuing false dichotomies upon which he seems to frame nearly everything. In this case, he seems to presume the only options are “angry-young-prophet” or “helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.” Why must the prophet role go hand-in-hand with anger? Yes, it often does, but surely it doesn’t have to. Likewise, isn’t it possible for a pastor to exercise what Walter Brueggemann calls the “prophetic imagination” while also serving as a spiritual father?22.In fact, my life experience would suggest the the very best pastors do precisely that. All of which points to my larger criticism. Time and again Driscoll substitutes simplicity for precision, zeal for sound critical thought. Or, perhaps more accurately, he uses zealous simplicity to cover over the weaknesses of and deficiencies in his critical thought.33.It’s a approach that says, “If you don’t know the facts, just state what you do know and say it confidently. Also, dismiss all nuance off-hand as unimportant.” Don’t get me wrong. I loathe apathy. It’s useless. You cannot do anything with it. It just sits there like a nice car that’s out of gas. To quote Billy Madison, “Whoopty-doo!” Apathy is probably the character trait that annoys me most. That’s why I love passion. Even if it’s misguided now it can be harnessed later.44.See: Saul –> Paul. If there’s one thing I like about Driscoll, it’s his passion. It just needs to be harnessed better. It appears he now sees that, but I don’t particularly care for the vision he’s casting as a solution. Honestly, I don’t particularly want Driscoll to become this more subdued spiritual father type.55.In my opinion, the American Christianity has a surplus of those as it is. Instead I’d like him to aspire toward a middle-way. Namely, I’d like to see him retain the passion, drop the knee-jerk anger, raise his level of critical thought, tack on some more civility,6.I’ve seen it done, and that man changed the trajectory of my life. revision the prophet role, and dig deeper into the spiritual father role. Can that be done? Yes.6 Of course, it may be the case that Driscoll just doesn’t have the intellectual talents.77.I say that as no insult but a possible acknowledgment of his limitations, which we all have. If that’s the case–and I’m ignorant as to whether that’s the case–then I suppose I’d have to agree. The subdued, helpful, spiritual father route is probably the way to go.